A Mets pennant and the exciting Baby Bombers headline an interesting and frustrating decade that was New York sports, 2010-2019.
The last decade ended with a New York Yankees World Series championship and the new one ended without such glory. The Mets came up short against the Royals in October of 2015 in the World Series at Citi Field. Those could have been the only highlights of a New York sports decade, but there were many more.
It is possible to reflect on the past decade and realize failure loomed large as we begin 2020. Many coaches and managers came… and are now gone. One play made the difference and stars emerged.
Whatever the realistic level of success exists, another New York sports year is in the Big Apple books.
The Yankees recurring nightmare that is the Houston Astros in the ALCS continues. Their futility of failing to win a World Series championship while Brian Cashman tinkers (and doesn’t) with the Steinbrenners money stands in the forefront.
Of course, the record-setting contract for pitcher Gerrit Cole was the decade-ending story.
Joe Girardi managed that last championship in 2009. A long managerial search commenced and Aaron Boone closed the decade with back-to-back 100-win seasons. Aaron Judge became a home run sensation in the Bronx and the “Baby Bombers” morphed into the “Bronx Bombers.”
Derek Jeter, at 37, became the 28th player and fourth youngest in baseball to achieve a milestone of 3,000 hits. As only Jeter could do, he did it in dramatic fashion, a home run and five hits against the Rays in the Bronx.
Mariano Rivera, a few years after his final appearance at Yankee Stadium, was a unanimous Baseball Hall of Fame inductee. That final time on the mound at Yankee Stadium saw Jeter and Andy Pettitte go to the mound at the request of Girardi. It was the top emotional moment of baseball in New York this decade.
And it was Jeter, again, Sept. 25, 2014, with his sendoff, a game-winning single in the Bronx in a 6-5 win over the Orioles. Jeter, almost certain to be another unanimous Hall of Famer in 2020, would change the complexion of baseball in Miami as a majority owner of the Marlins.
Across town, the Mets made history. A young pitching core of Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, and two -time Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom took centerstage.
Johan Santana pitched the first no-hitter in franchise history, June 1, 2012. It took 50 years and 8,020 games for the Mets to achieve an accomplishment that is second best to a perfect game. Santana threw a career-high 234 pitches. Then-manager Terry Collins let him throw and Santana was never the same after that historic night at Citi Field. Santana missed the entire 2011 season after tearing a muscle in his pitching shoulder and was never the same and dominating ace.
There was the unexpected run of 2015, the Mets coming up short to the Royals in the World Series—an amazing October run for Collins and his team. Daniel Murphy set home run records against the Cubs and Dodgers, and Yoenis Cespedes was the mid-season addition that sparked the lineup with his huge contract.
Pete Alonso became “The Polar Bear” sensation and established a rookie home run record with 53. Jacob deGrom has established himself as perhaps the best pitcher in baseball.
In the end, the Mets, not the Yankees, captured a pennant. The Mets will soon have the richest owner in sports with billionaire hedge funder Steven Cohen.
The Giants said goodbye (unofficially) to Eli Manning and his two Super Bowl championships as they made another coaching change to close the decade after another losing season. Daniel Jones is the future and a top priority with the coaching search in active mode.
Odel Beckman Jr. and that catch off a Manning pass, Nov. 23, 2014, remains the athletic highlight of the decade. Eighty-four-yards, one-handed in the end zone for the rookie that went viral. But as quickly as he hit the headlines was as quickly as he left. His antics and a new contract eventually sent him to Cleveland.
The Jets finished the decade with a nice run while polishing off a season of two halves. Similarly to Jones with the Giants, Sam Darnold remains the focal point in Florham Park. MetLife Stadium hosted a Super Bowl in February, which was a resounding success. The NFL got lucky with the weather as the first Super Bowl played outdoors in a cold-weather city, Feb. 2, 2014.
No championships for the Brooklyn Nets or New York Knicks. Though the Nets are closing in on something special, they’ll conclude the decade with hopes that Kevin Durant is healthy and ready to roll as soon as possible.
Except for “Linsanity” in February of 2012, were there any highlights for the Knicks? The lowlights of little stability are fresh in our minds.
Serena Williams both dominated and suffered setbacks at the US Open in Flushing.
And you can’t forget what a horse accomplished at Belmont Park, June 6, 2015, American Pharoah, as 90,000 fans got their wish and witnessed horse racing immortality. Trained by Bob Baffert, Victor Espinoza had the expert ride to the first Triple Crown since Affirmed in 1978.
Soccer emerged as a major sport in New York City. Yankee Stadium became the home of New York City FC in 2015, the 20th expansion team in the MLS. NYCFC has come close for the MLS Cup, but has been knocked out of the MLS Eastern Conference semifinal and final rounds as they continue to bring in international talent that included David Villa and a mega-contract that left the scene in 2019.
And there is no doubt that boxing has returned to New York. Madison Square Garden was the “Mecca” again with major championship fights in the arena and Hulu Theatre. Sold out crowds witnessed the last fight for four-division champion Miguel Cotto in 2017. The change of the heavyweight championship in June when unheralded Andy Ruiz took the title from Anthony Joshua, his first fight in America.
Barclays Center in Brooklyn continues to stage championship fights under the PBC banner. The arena became a home for welterweight champions Danny Garcia, Keith Thurman, Shawn Porter and WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder.
Finally, we said goodbye to Mike Francesa and his unretired comeback attempt at sports talk WFAN. At the very end, he lost the rating war to Michael Kay at ESPN Radio, but will contribute daily half-hour segments in the new year.
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